You help when others don’t: 4 ways you’ve been supporting relief work across the world

You help when others don’t:

4 ways you’ve been supporting relief work across the world

When a disaster or conflict hits a nation, we know you want to help. Thanks to your faithful support for BMS World Mission, you are.

Four disasters, each marked by terrible suffering and loss. You will have heard about the conflict in Ukraine, the civil war in South Sudan, the lingering devastation from Nepal’s earthquakes, and the impact of a tsunami on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi. What you might not know is that by giving to BMS, you’ve supported the people who desperately need help. We’re in a strong position to respond in times of disaster as we’re part of a global family of Baptists.

BMS World Mission is part of the Baptist Forum for Aid and Development (BFAD), a collective of Baptist organisations from across the world devoted to supporting those left in crisis as they rebuild after a disaster strikes. But vital help wouldn’t happen without your support. “It has been a joy to see the Baptist family come together,” says Rachel Conway-Doel, BMS Relief Facilitator. “The potential we have to make an impact is very exciting.”

Here are some exciting ways that you, the BMS family, have already helped:

1. Keeping people warm in Ukraine

A truck carrying boxes.
Vital heating equipment is being distributed to people in danger of freezing in Ukraine, where temperatures can drop to minus 25 degrees in winter.

Over 1.5 million people have been displaced in Ukraine due to the ongoing conflict between the Ukrainian army and pro-Russia separatists, leaving many of them with no means to stay warm in sub-zero temperatures. Thanks to your generosity, we’ve been able to help provide people in Ukraine with thermal underwear, ceramic heaters, coal and wood to help them get through the dangerous winter months. We’d like to say a special thank you to all those who’ve responded to our Ukraine appeal in the last few months. You’ve really made a difference!

2. Standing by the people of Nepal

A street of collapsed buildings
Nearly 8 million people were directly affected by the devastating earthquakes that struck Nepal in 2015.

The media might not be there anymore, but BMS has continued to stand with the people of Nepal to help them rebuild after the catastrophic earthquakes that hit in 2015. Your giving has supported the rebuilding of public buildings and schools and provided disaster risk management training to help communities be better prepared should such a tragic disaster occur again.

3. Giving crucial support to South Sudanese refugees

A woman in a wheelchair
Many people with disabilities had to be carried out of South Sudan. You support has helped provide wheelchairs for people unable to walk.

Five years of civil war in South Sudan has forced more than two million people to flee this young nation. Many have sought refuge in Uganda, reaching camps that stretch for miles. BMS funds have so far helped provide vital food rations to 1,700 children suffering from malnutrition, as well as food, agricultural tools, wheelchairs and pastoral support to people with disabilities.

4. Coming to the aid of tsunami survivors

A destroyed van.
Thousands of people we displaced after the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami on the island of Sulawesi last year.

Over 2,100 people were killed and 87,000 displaced after the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that struck the Indonesian island of Sulawesi in October last year. Your support provided people on the ground with emergency food and personal hygiene kits and helped to build shelters and provide counselling support to trauma victims.

It’s thanks to your heart for demonstrating God’s love that we can stand alongside people who need help. When South Sudanese refugees say praise God for providing food and a wheelchair, it’s because of your solidarity in the gospel. And when an earthquake victim who’s lost their home is able to take shelter, it’s you who’s helped to provide that roof. But there are so many others we would like to support.

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Please, give today and come to the aid of those who need to know Christian love across the world. Thank you.

Helping people see their lives are worth living

Helping people see their lives are worth living

A counsellor in Nepal hears many moving stories.

One day it might be a woman who was married too young, and felt trapped in a life she didn’t want. Another day, it might be someone who lost everything and everyone they loved to the devastating 2015 earthquakes. Their stories are different, but both people came to the same conclusion: one dose of a lethal pesticide, readily available over the counter, and it would all be over.

In places like Nepal, where people have suffered unimaginable trauma, and where there is a huge stigma attached to discussing mental health, suicide might seem like the only way out for some who are experiencing terrible suffering.

But your support for BMS World Mission is helping to change that.

BMS counsellor Jenny Saunders is working with the Elijah Counselling Training Centre (ECTC) in Kathmandu, training local people to become counsellors in communities across Nepal. Critical to the work is raising awareness of the symptoms of trauma. Jenny trains people to find individuals who are trusted in their local communities, so they can identify the symptoms and help people get support.

One of the first people Jenny trained was Binsa. Binsa then trained counsellors in rural communities. “Counsellors in Nepal have very little access to supervision,” says Jenny. “So we want to promote a more holistic approach to supervision, in which we can supervise each other.”

That approach sees Jenny train her counsellors to work in peer groups to give each other the emotional support they need, and the structure to work ethically and professionally. Binsa saw this as a great opportunity for the people she worked with. As they worked in rural communities, they would never be able to access the supervision they needed. But by approaching their training the way Jenny suggested, Binsa ensured they would be able to rely on each other to meet their support needs, and the needs of the people they were counselling.

A partially collapsed building.
The trauma of the 2015 earthquakes still affects people every day.
A woman sits on a table.
Jenny helps save lives by ensuring people get the emotional support they need.

Jenny is undertaking further research into supervision techniques in Nepal. And she’s hoping to make as big an impact as she can.

“We want to make changes at a policy level. We’d love it to be mandatory for counsellors to have supervision,” she says. It might not seem like that big of a deal on first reading, but Jenny’s work is putting the key steps in place to ensure that people won’t see suicide as the only way out.

“Without supervision, it’s very easy to burn out or not do a good job,” says Jenny. “You need someone to support you.” By supporting BMS, you’re supporting Jenny’s work. That means you’re helping people in very real need of help.

Jenny’s work is pioneering new ways of treating mental health issues and trauma in Nepal. But she and her colleagues still need your prayer. Please pray for:

1. Pray for the training centre’s work. Pray that more people will be able to support those still suffering from the 2015 earthquakes.

2. Pray for people with mental health problems in Nepal, and across the world. Pray that they know they aren’t alone, and that they receive the support they need.

3. Pray for Jenny, as she continues with her research in supervision techniques, and for her husband Andy in his teaching at The Nepal Baptist Bible College. Pray that they have energy and encouragement in all they do.

4. Pray for those who are today contemplating suicide. Pray for an overwhelming sense of God’s love.

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Fearless: taking on the Sahara Desert, raging rivers, and the sex industry

Fearless:

taking on the Sahara Desert, raging rivers, and the sex industry

There’s nothing overstated about the headline above. BMS World Mission workers enter isolated, extreme and often dangerous places because God has empowered them to change people’s lives for the better. They tread fearlessly knowing you are standing alongside them in prayer. So please read on for some of their latest blogs.

1. When you get lost, stuck and weary in the desert

Nightmare journeys home usually consist of heavy traffic, train cancellations, or flight delays. Not so for BMS surgeons Andrea and Mark Hotchkin. For these two brilliant mission workers, along with their children Ruth and Rebecca, the journey home to Bardaï in northern Chad involved getting lost in the Sahara desert, camping outside as lightning struck, and digging for hours to release their vehicle from sand. And if that wasn’t challenging enough, a dust storm then hit. Read the Hotchkins’ blog to find out how they got home!

Truck stuck in the mud in a desert
The Hotchkin family not only faced flooding in a desert, they also had the problem of sand becoming mud.

2. Cable bridges, landslides and a lot of walking – just to reach schools

Simon Hall holding a book as children surround him
Children’s books (and Simon Hall) are clearly popular at this remote school in Lamjung District

It’s fair to say that Simon Hall put in a lot of effort to reach the school in the photo above. That’s what’s needed in Lamjung District, Nepal, where BMS teacher trainer Simon serves. The school you can see was one of 15 that Simon and three of his colleagues visited in just one week. Reaching them involved crossing cable bridges over raging rivers, walking for hours up steps, and then travelling in jeeps up to altitude-sickness-inducing heights. The journey was understandably draining, but it was nothing compared to what was to come for Simon. Please read his blog today and pray with him using his prayer points.

3. Joining the fight to eradicate TB

Can you imagine being part of history? BMS mission workers James and Ruth Neve don’t have to. As part of the Indian Government’s plan to eradicate tuberculosis (TB) from the country by 2025, James and Ruth are going to be giving training to people who have been cured of the illness. Their training courses will teach vital skills to help some of the poorest and most marginalized people in India generate a better income and turn their lives around. Read James and Ruth’s blog post about the day they decided to help change the world.

Ruth Neve signing TB agreement
Ruth Neve signs a life-changing agreement

4. ‘I want women to understand that God created us beautiful’

Ashleigh Gibb witnesses pain every day. She serves with BMS in the red light district of Bangkok, where she enters bars and brothels to speak words of love and kindness to women who have been trafficked. She also works in a coffee shop, that gives women who have managed to escape the sex industry the chance to learn new skills. Ashleigh’s blogs are always very powerful and heartfelt, none more so than her latest post in which she writes about the importance of loving those around us, even those who are hard to love.

Ashleigh Gibb in Bangkok
BMS worker Ashleigh Gibb takes the light of Christ into the darkness of Bangkok’s sex industry.

5. ‘May you know that you are loved with a constant and eternal love’

The Ovendens sit together with new baby Eleanor
Please keep Joe, Reuben, Lois, Eleanor and Connie Ovenden in your prayers.

This may not be the frontline of mission work, but we’re confident you’ll want to read about it. There was much joy in the BMS family when news came through about the newest Ovenden. Eleanor Ada Joy was welcomed into the world on Tuesday 18 September, a third child for BMS workers in Uganda, Joe and Lois. We give thanks today for the blessing of new life, and for everything that Joe and Lois do for BMS. They’ve posted a prayer for Eleanor in their latest blog. After you’ve read it, please pray for Eleanor.

God is with our mission workers, as are you. It is your faithful prayer and giving that enables them to be on the frontline of mission, helping the sick in Chad, children in Nepal, women who have been trafficked in Thailand, and many others in need around the world. Our mission workers across the globe write blogs about their work and we often post them on our Facebook page, along with prayer requests and videos. Please check it out, and please do comment on the blogs with words of encouragement for our workers! We love to hear from you.

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Ditching the chalkboard for a computer lab

Ditching the chalkboard for a computer lab

how you’re helping Nepali students learn

They were lucky if they could even find one computer that worked at school. And then a BMS World Mission worker got involved and did something about it.

How did you learn to use a computer? You probably sat in front of one, right? The pupils who went back to school in the UK this week will be learning the same way. They’ll often have access to a laptop or personal device at home, too. It’s easy. Accessible. Normal.

That’s not how it is in Lamjung District in central Nepal, where BMS worker Simon Hall lives and works, training teachers in IT. In Lamjung, only a small minority of students have access to a computer at home. Everyone else has to learn at school, which is difficult as schools don’t have enough of them.

The old computers used by students in Lamjung District, Nepal
The old computers that pupils in a village school in Lamjung District tried to learn IT on. Unsurprisingly, it was hard work for them.

Students learn instead by taking down instructions put on the classroom chalkboard, or written in a textbook – instructions for how to start a computer and work through the very basics. They memorise the steps, and then eventually get to watch a teacher put them into action on an actual computer.

If there are other computers available for students to use, they often don’t work properly through wear and tear, or because of national power cuts. And so it’s back to learning from the textbook for these young people who need IT skills to get on in a world that is becoming increasingly reliant on technology.

This is why Simon’s work is so having such a big impact in Lamjung. In the past few months, he’s helped four schools through the process of securing the computers and then installing them, and it’s hoped more will follow.

Students at a school in Nepal type on computers during a lesson
Instead of learning IT from a textbook, these students can now learn on a computer. You’ve played your part in making this happen.

Over 100 computers have been installed in schools in Lamjung over the last two years through Simon’s work. The computers are new, publicly funded, and are in rooms that are battery-powered. Schools in Lamjung are being brought into the modern age, with Simon driving them on.

“If students know how to use IT, it just gives them a whole new ability, like reading or writing,” says Simon.

“You need to be able to do this effectively in this day and age, so it’s crucial these students have regular access to computers. And with computers that work consistently and look good too, teachers will be excited and feel encouraged to use the lab.”

The students are understandably loving the opportunity to spend more time in front of a computer, as opposed to simply reading about them. And the teachers are happy too.

BMS worker Simon Hall helps to assemble new computers at a school in Lamjung, Nepal.
BMS worker Simon Hall starts to assemble another computer at a school in Lamjung, seeing the project through from start to finish.

“Everyone is delighted with the result,” says Simon. “As one principal has said, if other schools could see this, they would all do it.”

And it’s hoped they will. We can’t wait to tell you all about it when they do. Great work, Simon.

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Sending JOY to Nepal

Sending JOY to Nepal

In 1989, Joy lived six days’ walk from the nearest road and could only communicate through letters. Things are going to be very different during her second long-term stint with BMS World Mission in Nepal. Get to know her and her fascinating story in our Q&A!

It’s almost thirty years since Joy Ransom first boarded a plane to Nepal to teach with BMS. Now, God’s called her back. She flies on Tuesday 28 August, arrives in Tansen (her new home) on Friday 31 and begins teaching on Monday 3 September – talk about hitting the ground running! The next two weeks are going to be an absolute whirlwind for Joy and she would love it if you would pray for her.

But how rude of us… first you better get acquainted.

Joy smiling next to a Nepalese woman
Joy is getting ready to move back to Nepal, where she'll be working as a teacher and making lots of new friends.

You’re about to leave to serve long-term with BMS in Nepal, but this definitely isn’t your first rodeo. Tell me about when you’ve worked with us before.

In 1989 I went to teach missionaries’ children in a very remote place called Okhaldhunga, in the east of Nepal. There was a hospital there, a community health project, a forestry project and non-formal education. I taught the children of the missionaries who were working there.

I was there for five years, and at that time Okhaldhunga was very remote and the nearest road was six days’ walk away. We used to travel by plane, which only went twice a week, and in the monsoon it often didn’t fly at all because it was too cloudy. So it felt quite isolated. But there was a good community there as well.

What was it like to live so remotely?

It always felt like a lot of thought to leave, because you had to walk to the airstrip and that was about five hours away. So it wasn’t like you could just nip home again if the plane didn’t come. And in the monsoon it did feel quite cut-off. We had no radio, no telephone and no computer in those days, so it felt very different.

I went back to Nepal with BMS as a volunteer in 2015, and I had the chance to go back to Okhaldhunga to visit. That’s the first time I’d been back in 20 years. Now they’ve built a road and you can actually get there by jeep or bus. It’s changed the place. It was lovely to be back there.

Florence nearly got washed away – and the porter literally saved her life

How did you keep in touch with people? Through letters?

Yes, through letters. But we only got mail when the planes came. Quite often I’d be in school with the tutorial group and we’d hear the plane overhead, and the children got very excited and so did I, because we’d think ‘oh yay, the plane’s come today, we might get mail from home.’ But some letters took three months to get to us.

Joy previously served with BMS as a volunteer in Nepal in 2015, when she taught English to teachers.

Tell me about your most memorable experience from that time?

It was monsoon time and I needed to leave the project because it was the holidays and I’d just been in the village for such a long time. So a friend of mine, Florence (who was in her 60s), and I decided that we would walk out. There were no planes, because it was the middle of the monsoon. So we set out with a porter.

I kept asking God, ‘is it time to go back?’

The first few days were fine, but then when we got further south the rivers were huge, and we ended up walking through flooded rivers really, full of grit and sand. Florence nearly got washed away – and the porter literally saved her life by helping her. Reaching out to her, holding her up, and then taking her across the river.

When we eventually got to the road, we still had a 12-hour bus journey to get to Kathmandu.

Wow! It sounds like it’s going to be pretty different this time. Why are you going back to Nepal?

When I left in 1996 I felt that God had still got a work for me to do in Nepal. I had just adopted my daughter Bethany, and she was six months old when we came to the UK. I thought maybe she and I would live in the UK for a few years, and then when she was old enough, we would go back. But that didn’t happen. And although I kept asking God, ‘is it time to go back?’, it wasn’t.

But then three years ago, Bethany was at university and so I applied to go as a volunteer. I thought I’d go for a year just to see what it’s like, because, having been there 20 years ago, I knew the country would have changed, but also I would have changed. So I thought it would be a good chance to see if there’s still a role for somebody like me, and if that was really what God wanted me to do.

I built up relationships in the community and found that my Nepali language came back, and I felt very comfortable in Nepali church. So I felt like that was confirmation that I should explore the possibility of going back longer term. And maybe God did have a plan for me in Nepal.

Joy with some of her students when she was teaching in Nepal in 2015. We're so thrilled that God has called her back there.

We obviously agree! What are you going to be doing?

For the first year I am going back to Tansen, to the same place and same role that I had three years ago. The teacher who took over from me has to go back to the US for a year, so they have a need for a teacher.

After that year, I am hopefully going to work with KISC EQUIP [the Kathmandu International Study Centre’s Education Quality Improvement Programme] doing some teacher training or mentoring of teachers in local Nepali schools in Lamjung, with Simon and Wendy Hall.

This year I also have to complete my Master’s degree, because to get a visa in Nepal you need to have a Master’s. That’s what I’ve been working on this last year, but I still have the dissertation to write in Tansen.

Is it fair to say you’ve left a bit of your heart in Nepal?

Yes. I love Nepal. I love the people.

What are you most excited about, about getting there?

Meeting people again. The people that I made friends with last time. I used to walk every day along the same path from my house to where I worked at the school and there were lots of people who sat along the path, and we would chat every day. That was really nice.

It’s the Church who are supporting me and sending me. We’re doing this together.

Joy is keen to get back to Nepal and see her friends again! We can’t wait to bring you more images of her serving there.

What are you going to miss most?

Apart from family… I’ll miss having a bath.

Would you like people in the UK to get behind you with prayer and donations?

Yes! I believe that mission is a partnership, and although I get the opportunity to go to Nepal and hopefully have some skills and experiences that mean I can be useful there, it’s not just me going off on my own. It’s definitely the Church who are supporting me and sending me. We’re doing this together. And if I can pray for people here and they can pray for me then hopefully everything will be more effective.

What’s the first thing you’ve packed in your suitcase?

Family photographs and mosquito repellent!

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What can we be praying for?

Please pray that in the next few weeks I get to know the children quickly, and their families. Pray too that I can support them and find out what their needs are. I feel the role of teaching the children of missionaries involves supporting the families too, because often parents feel guilty about taking their children away from their family and culture and peer support.

Pray also that I can make a good start on the study for my Master’s dissertation, that I can choose a really good subject. And that with the internet and the time difference, I can still catch up with my tutor back here in Scotland.

Settling in basically and making a good start.

Update from the frontline: Bangladesh and Nepal

Update from the frontline:

Bangladesh and Nepal

Two amazing couples. Two wonderful countries. Six incredible months. The latest from Team Lynch and Team Vokuhl.

New friendships, hard work, lots of prayer and one very embarrassing language mix-up. These past few months have certainly been challenging and rewarding ones for BMS World Mission workers the Lynches and Vokuhls. Louise and Peter Lynch are working with church leaders in Bangladesh, while Toby and Pippa Vokuhl are helping Nepal rebuild after the 2015 earthquakes. They couldn’t have got this far without your support so please read on for an update on their work.

Photo of Louise and Peter Lynch
Louise and Peter Lynch are currently based in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh.
Photo of the Vokuhl family
Pippa and Toby Vokuhl, and their children Jakey, Ella and Millie, have been adapting to life in Nepal

Tell us what it was like when you first arrived?

The Lynches:

Peter: It was a bit disorientating. We were tired, and we went straight into meeting people, being at church and getting our bearings. That was easier than going to bed though! The Proctors (BMS workers) were our chaperones for the first couple of weeks. They were really good, very kind to us.

Louise: They took us shopping, showed us how to dress, helped us buy our clothes and showed us the supermarkets. It feels like we’ve settled in well.

The Vokuhls:

Toby: When we first arrived in Pokhara we were very warmly welcomed, which was great. Our housing situation was a little bit of a challenge because our flat was still under construction and we didn’t have a kitchen at all, so for two months we were living in a building site. We now find ourselves in what is a really lovely flat, not far from the children’s school. It’s worked out really well for us as a family with our children having friends nearby.

How is the language learning going?

The Lynches:

Louise: We have completed three books, so we’ve finished the basic course. We’re given about 25 new words every day and we’ve learnt tenses we never knew about. So we’re doing our homework. We get most of right, but there is quite a lot of red ink on it most days too!

Louise and another lady are walking away from us down a Dhaka street
Louise and Peter enjoy exploring the streets of Dhaka

The most useful phrases we’ve learnt so far are things like ‘kemôn achhen,’ which is ‘how are you?’ So we spend a lot of our time saying that, and ‘bhālō,’ which means ‘fine’, ‘āstē āstē,’ which means ‘slowly slowly’, and ‘ami janina,’ which is ‘I don’t know’, or ‘I don’t understand’. I think we are the entertainment sometimes, but sometimes you just have to go for it. People come along and they come and watch us trying to speak Bangla, and it is almost a sport!

Peter: We make everyone laugh! People appreciate us trying because they’re very proud of their language and they love people trying to learn it. They’ve been great.

The Vokuhls:

Pippa: It’s hard work! We started off doing four mornings a week and we are just doing one or two now. It’s nice to have some basic conversations with friends and people at church, and the local shops, but we have a lot more hours of study ahead. I’ve had a few embarrassing moments. I went into a shop to try and ask for two kilos for carrots and I managed to ask for two kilos of marijuana. The poor shopkeeper looked extremely shocked and distressed, and then said in English, “Oh, you want carrots.” I mentioned it to my language teacher who pointed out what I’d asked for.

Toby: Our landlady seems to think we are doing well settling in. The other day I could make out her saying to me in Nepali, “Toby, you’re so fat… your wife also.” I relayed that to Pippa, but in Nepali culture when you call someone fat you are just referring to how well they are doing. It was still rather funny!

Louise and Peter give us a slice of life in Dhaka and fill us in on what they’ve been up to

What else have you been up to?

The Lynches:

Louise: We just want to build relationships and understand the culture first before leaping in. We sat alongside pastors in some training for discipleship making, I think that’s an area where we’re looking to see how we can support them and help them to put their training into action in their churches.

We’re going up to Dineshpur for a month soon, and we’ll be staying with some of the pastors who were on the training, so it’ll be interesting to see what they’re doing.

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Peter: We’ve met most of the key people we’ll be working with in Dhaka, and people from the districts have come here for conferences. It’s been great to meet pastors and regional leaders. We’re developing a really good relationship with them, they’ve been so gracious and welcoming to us.

Everyone says to us that life outside of Dhaka is very different to life in Dhaka, so it will be great for us next month to just be outside of the capital and mix with the local community there.

The Vokuhls:

Pippa: Until recently, I’ve been doing language study and orientation, and at the moment our three children (Jakey, Ella and Millie) are on school holidays so that’s keeping me out of trouble.

Toby: We were waiting for a work visa for quite some time, so we have focused quite heavily on language study, and we’ve also been attending the local church. We’ve had a slightly longer language and culture adjustment period than we expected, but it has helped, and we’re pleased to have moved into the space where I can contribute to the work here.

Life in Nepal: Pippa and Toby Vokuhl chart some of the highlights, and ask for your prayers

What’s been a highlight so far?

The Lynches:

Peter: I just enjoy the life and vitality of the city, everyone is so industrious and active, there’s so many people everywhere doing so many things. It’s an energetic, lively and colourful place. We love the people.

Louise: We like walking around and we like the buzz of the place.

The Vokuhls:

Pippa: We went as a family to have a look around some of the projects that INF (International Nepal Fellowship) is running in the west of the country in villages and hospitals. It was amazing to see some of the projects that are making a difference to the poorest of the poor in Nepal.

Toby: There has been a wealth of experiences, such as being in a different culture and in a beautiful environment when you get out into the hills and mountains. Another highlight has been being able to make a difference through my work. That has been very rewarding.

What have been some of the challenges?

The Lynches:

Peter: I think pacing ourselves has been difficult. It is hot, and you find yourself on certain days having lower energy. So, I think knowing how to pace yourself and how to navigate your way through that.

Louise: It’s hard on your downtime because it’s not a recreational city. What to do when we’re not studying Bangla is the biggest challenge for us. But we’re enjoying Bangla learning, so it’s quite a win win really, as that’s what we spend most of our time doing.

The Vokuhls:

Pippa: Subtle cultural differences that you don’t necessarily see or understand. For example, our language teacher came around and she had very bad back pain. I said she should sit on the sofa, but her feet were dangling so I got some books to put under her feet. She went very quiet and said, “Oh, in your culture do you put your feet on books? In our culture, we believe that if you put your feet on books, all the knowledge from your brain will go.”

Toby: Not being able to communicate is disempowering, such as when you can’t say what you want to say to the local shopkeeper. Another challenge is finding your way around locally.

Photo of street scene in Pokhara, featuring motorbikes and overhead cables
The Vokuhls have been working hard to find their way around the streets of Pokhara

What can people be praying for?

The Lynches:

Louise: I think for next month, that we travel and stay well in Dineshpur, and that we make the most of that chance as it’s a really unique opportunity.

Peter: We’re moving house at the beginning of September and we’re moving to an area that’s close to the office. So please pray for that process of moving and getting into a local community.

Pray too for the church in Bangladesh. They’ve got big hearts and a big vision but it’s quite tough. So pray for them, that God would empower them.

The Vokuhls

Pippa: Please pray for my ongoing language study, and also pray for developing deeper relationships with local Nepali women. I’d also appreciate prayer as I find a role for myself. Please pray that God would move me into what I can do to serve him here.

Toby: Please pray for continued cultural awareness. Please also pray for a construction project that I’m managing at the Green Pastures Hospital, where a new chapel is being built. Everyone would like that to be a success for the hospital and for the people of Pokhara.

BMS 24:7 Partners - sharing God's love with a world in need

 

 

Are you inspired by the works our mission workers are doing? You can commit to giving regularly to support the Lynches or Vokuhls by becoming a 24:7 Partner. Just click here. Thank you for standing alongside them.

Buffalo, corn, radishes and chillies: a recipe for success

Buffalo, corn, radishes and chillies:

a recipe for success

A widow is able to provide for her three daughters. People in Afghanistan are eating vegetables in their village for the first time. Ugandan farmers can fund school fees and medical bills. Agricultural training is transforming lives, and it’s all down to your support for BMS World Mission.

In countries facing political instability and natural disasters, it’s hard for people in rural areas who survive by farming to make a living and support their families. But BMS-supported agricultural training is changing that. By donating cattle, training farmers to grow chillies and bananas, and helping women rear buffalo, men and women can earn a living long into the future. Because of you, BMS workers are with these communities every step of the way, helping them improve their quality of life.

Here’s what you are doing to help farmers and families to thrive.

1. Mozambique: cattle and corn

In the rural village of Chassimba in Mozambique, men and women are learning how to better grow corn. Overseen by BMS worker Carlos Jone, this training is transforming lives in the community.

A man surrounded by bricks in heaps.
John was able to make bricks by selling his crop.
Corn filled to the brim in a barn.
Amelia has enough corn to provide for the needs of her family.

John and Amelia are two of the people who gained skills in growing corn. John used the money he made from selling his crop to produce bricks, which he used to build his new house. Amelia, a widow, managed to grow so much corn that she filled her barn to the brim. Now she has enough to support her family for the rest of the year. Amelia’s also now involved in growing vegetables with other farmers in the village, and is earning enough to support her three children through school.

We’ve also donated cattle to the village, and these are being used to teach ploughing – helping many more people provide for their families.

“Thank you for your supporting farmers in Chassimba,” says BMS worker Carlos. “You’re fighting hunger and food insecurity, and the results are visible – there are no longer hunger problems in the community.”

This thank you dance from the villagers in Chassimba is for you.

2. Afghanistan: lettuces and radishes

Villagers in Afghanistan are growing vegetables never grown in their area before.

At high altitude in the mountains of Afghanistan, growing vegetables presents unique challenges, and in some places they’re not even grown or eaten at all.

You’re helping to change that. With your support, people are learning about the nutritional benefits of vegetables and how to grow them.

In one village, agricultural experts set up a demonstration garden on the land of a man called Almas*, where other villagers could learn and experiment in growing vegetables. Almas’ uncle came to visit, and when he saw the garden, he couldn’t believe his eyes. He said, “I am 66 years old, and have never seen vegetables grown here; these people are just telling you stories!”

Some time passed, and Almas’ uncle came to visit again. Dinner was served, with plates of fresh radishes and lettuce being presented, all of which had been grown locally. Almas turned to his uncle and said, “Thanks be to God that now at the age of 66 you have tasted vegetables grown here in this village!” Now, when Almas’ son harvests vegetables from the garden, the uncle comes and takes some of them to his own home.

More and more people in remote mountain villages are now living healthier lives through growing vegetables. And it’s all down to you.

You’re fighting hunger and food insecurity

3. Nepal: buffalo and goats

Goma’s buffalo died in the 2015 earthquakes, and she had to completely rebuild her house. She and her husband had used the animals to support their two daughters through school. Life was now looking very precarious.

Thankfully, Goma managed to get hold of three buffalo and some goats, and she got a place on BMS-supported livestock training, to learn how to better look after her animals. She learnt about animal health and shed management, and now she’s able to get more from her cattle than she ever did before.

Goma collects around 20 litres of milk from the buffalo every day, and then sells it at a local collection centre. She and her husband are able to continue supporting their two daughters, who are studying in Kathmandu, and provide for themselves, too.

A woman wearing a red dress standing next to three buffalo.
Goma can now provide for her two daughters by selling buffalo milk.

4. Uganda: bananas and chillies

Chillies being dried in the Ugandan sun.
These chillies are being dried before being transported to the wholesalers in Kampala.

In Gulu, Uganda, BMS workers have trained 100 families to start farming chillies and bananas. Each household received in-depth training, including land preparation and how to plant the bananas and chillies. Once they were ready, the farmers used their new skills and knowledge to grow the crops.

And they were hugely successful. All the bananas are being sold in local markets in Gulu. And the dried chillies are now being bought by a wholesaler in the capital city, Kampala, that exports them all over the world.

This is having an amazing impact in the lives of these families. One of the challenges for many farmers in the area was not being able to pay for big medical bills, or having to pull their children out of school if fees were put up. But now, this is no longer the case.

Namazzi* benefited from growing bananas. Because the banana harvest is continual, Namazzi is able to take her bananas and sell them at a local market throughout the year. The new income acts as pocket money for the family each week, so they can make sure there is enough food in the house, as well as covering small medical bills.

A man planting a banana tree while surrounded by people watching.
People in Gulu are learning how to plant and grow bananas.

These are just a few examples of the transformations you’re making possible through your giving. You’re helping farmers learn new skills, provide for their families, and live healthier lives. Thank you.

*Names changed to protect identities.

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The top 10: Action Team photo competition 2018

The top 10:

Action Team photo competition 2018

We bring you the finalists in the annual BMS World Mission Action Team photo competition.

Be warned, you’re about to be bitten by the gap year bug. We certainly were as we looked at the Action Team photos submitted by the class of 2017/18, though sadly most of us are beyond our gap-year years! If you know anyone who isn’t old like us and might want to do a Christian gap year in places like these, share this story with them! They could be our next crop of Action Teams

We loved judging these photos. And, after much debate (it went on for hours), we finally picked our top ten. They are beautiful.

Tenth place: Nepal

A mountain isin the distance, while in the foreground is a bench, with sunlight shining on it
What a stunning sight this is. We adored this photo of the Annapurna Himalayas the moment we saw it.

Rachel Paton will never forget this view from a five-day trek in the Annapurna Himalayas.

“As we got ready to begin our descent early in the morning, the sun filled the valleys with a golden haze,” says Rachel. “I was overwhelmed with a sense of how privileged I’d been to see sights such as these.”

Ninth place: Nepal

A woman in red clothing, crouches behind a statue, pinching a cigarette in her fingers
This candid shot of a woman smoking a cigarette was taken when the Nepal Action Team were visiting a temple.

This woman was begging at the foot of a temple staircase in Bhaktapur, a town east of Kathmandu. And then for a moment, she retreated behind an enormous stone statue just as Rachel Paton took her picture.

“She seemed to be hiding; weary, perhaps, of being visible but often ignored by so many people passing by,” says Rachel.

Eighth place: Guinea

Children sit behind desks as a teacher writes on a chalkboard
Children fill a classroom in Guinea, though just like in classrooms around the world, concentrating all the time is not possible for every child.

There are over 80 young children packed into this preschool classroom in Guinea. Teaching assistant and Guinea Action Team member Eleanor Hyde found space somehow to take this photo of the children’s eagerness to learn.

“They jump up to show you their work, and with huge smiles encourage you to keep teaching them,” says Eleanor. “These are God’s children, gifted and purposed.”

Seventh place: Nepal

Small blue boats on a lake with mist in the distance
This picture from Nepal captured our attention because of its beauty and the sense of tranquillity.

The serenity of Phewa Lake in the Pokhara Valley was captured by Rachel Paton (she really did take a lot of great photos!), with its stillness contrasted by what was happening behind her.

“There were tourists out for a stroll, locals using the lakeside footpath, Tibetan refugees selling handcrafted jewellery, and women washing clothes at the edge of the water,” says Rachel. “It is a wonderful place to visit.”

Sixth place: Nepal

Children in blue clothing smile and laugh as they pull on a flag
It is play time at a Nepal school, with these young children having the time of their lives.

Children couldn’t contain their excitement when this parachute was brought out at a rural school in Nepal. And Action Teamer and gifted photographer Rachel Paton was there to capture the joy.

“We had to work hard to convince them that this particular parachute was not to be used for flying, just for playing with on the ground!” says Rachel.

Fifth place: Guinea

Children in the distance wade through water
Children on a small island off the coast of Guinea head into the water in search of fish to catch.

Guinea Action Teamer Mhairi Cole was on a small island off the African nation’s coast when she saw a group of children being given a fishing lesson.

“They proudly presented their huge catch,” says Mhairi. “And then later on, we had the opportunity to try some. I would give the fish a five-star rating!”

Fourth place: Mozambique

A young child peers behind a tree in Mozambique
This adorable scene during a game of hide-and-seek was captured in Mozambique.

Who doesn’t love a game of hide-and-seek? The children Action Teamer Rhiannon Cleghorn met in Mozambique clearly do. And though this boy had only trees to hide behind when Rhiannon was playing, it meant an adorable photo of him could be taken.

Third place: Mozambique

A man and a woman walk on a beach at sunset
Along with great need and a history of conflict and colonial oppression, Mozambique has glorious beaches enjoyed by local people every day. They are even more stunning as the sun sets, as this image shows.

Living by the coast was one of the biggest blessings for the Action Team in Mozambique, says Rhiannon Cleghorn.

“Sunday afternoons were spent at the beach playing football and making some of our best friends,” she said. “To top it all off, the sunsets were always serious ‘creation appreciation’ experiences.”

Second place: Nepal

Bells of different sizes hang from a pole, with a mountain range in the background.
These prayer bells in Nepal were wonderfully captured with the contours of the valley in the background.

This is a photo that makes you want to stand where photographer Rachel Paton did. She took this photo at the iconic Buddhist temple, Swayambhu, which is on top of a hill in the Kathmandu Valley.

“We were up there as the sun was setting, and the evening light striking this row of bells caught my attention just before we started to head down,” she says.

And the winner is: Nepal

An elephant with a trunk painted with colours looks at the camera
This photo, taken in Nepal by Rachel Paton, caught our attention straight away.

What a striking photo this is, and an obvious first place in this year’s Action Team photo competition. It was captured in Nepal by Rachel Paton (who else?!), and shows the beauty of God’s work in the form of this majestic elephant, Mayabhati.

“Three men were responsible for her around-the-clock care,” says Rachel. “It was amazing to see her, just as it was amazing to learn about the unique relationship that people in Nepal have with these parts of the country.”

Congratulations not only to those in the top ten, but to everyone who submitted a photo. You’ve inspired, moved and challenged us, and reminded us all of how magnificent God’s creation is.

Do you know a future Action Teamer?

Our Action Teams programme is one of the best Christian gap year programmes out there. If you know anyone aged between 17 and 23 who wants to serve God overseas then encourage them to get in touch with us today. You never know, they might just make next year’s photo competition top ten!

You can change a child’s life by praying today

You can change a child’s life by praying today

Extreme poverty, war and discrimination are denying children their right to an education as you read this. Your generous gifts to BMS are helping us to confront this injustice. And today, we’re asking you to support our education work with prayer too. Please read, pray and share this article so we can help more children in the countries featured below access life-transforming education.

Lebanon

Syrian and Iraqi refugee children in Lebanon are getting an education, thanks to you. Children who have had their lives shattered by conflict are being given hope for the future. Not only are they being taught, they are being treated with the love and respect that every child deserves.

• Pray that these children are able to concentrate on what they’re being taught and feel safe in their environment. Pray that they would love learning.

• Pray for wisdom and energy for the teachers, as they work with children who have suffered unimaginable trauma.

Children sitting at desks in school raise their hands to answer a question
Refugee children are back in the classroom in Lebanon after fleeing the horror of conflict in Syria and Iraq.

Bangladesh

Preschools across rural, very poor parts of Bangladesh are being supported by you. Boys and girls are being taught about letters and numbers, with BMS worker Louise Proctor training local teachers to give great lessons using free or cheap resources. We’re also helping to educate the children of mission workers at a school in Dhaka.

• Pray that the preschools will be a springboard to enable children to keep attending school, and that the children will be encouraged by their parents.

• Pray that the teachers will be equipped to provide stimulating lessons for the children, and can access all the resources they need.

Children sit in lines in a shed in Bangladesh. They are all staring at a teacher who is taking the lesson.
Children in rural Bangladesh are captivated as BMS worker Louise Proctor helps with a school lesson.

Kosovo

Underprivileged children and adults from marginalised and minority people groups in Kosovo are being given the chance to learn English thanks to your support for BMS teachers. More than 50 per cent of young people in Kosovo are unemployed and 30 per cent of the population live below the poverty line.

• Pray for BMS’ education work amongst marginalised people in Kosovo.

• Pray that young girls would have equal access to education, and that our workers would have the resources to help them.

• Pray for God to guide BMS workers Rose* and Robert* as they serve in education in Kosovo.

Albania

We’re working to help children from Roma and Egyptian communities access education. These children are shunned by Albanian society and live in abject poverty. We’re also helping further God’s mission in Albania by providing education for mission workers’ children at GDQ International Christian School.

• Pray for the children who want to learn, but are stopped from attending school regularly because of reasons out of their control. Pray for a sense of hope for them.

• Pray for the children who struggle in school because of extreme poverty.

• Pray for increased resources for the science department at GDQ in Tirana, and pray for renewed energy for BMS mission workers Chris and Debbie Carter, Mat and Suzanne Gregory, and Jill Morrow.

Two girls sit at a table, drawing pictures on pieces of paper
You can help children in Albania know what it feels like to have a happy, fulfilling education.

Peru

Children from poor families attend an after-school club at the BMS-founded El Puente Baptist Church in the city of Cusco. They’re helped with their homework, learn about God, and play games.

• Pray that more children attend the club, and see the value in an education.

• Pray that other members of the church get involved and use their blessings to help the children.

• Pray for Denise and Melany, who run the club. Pray they would feel encouraged by the difference they are making to young people’s lives.

Children sit on a stage in front of musical equipment. They are smiling and waving at the camera.
These children have been learning and having fun at a BMS-founded church in Peru.

Nepal

BMS is working to transform children’s lives by improving teaching in Nepali schools. Teacher training written by BMS worker Annie Brown is being rolled out across the country. We do this work in partnership with the Kathmandu International Study Centre (KISC), where mission workers’ children are taught, with BMS support.

• Pray for the Nepali teachers receiving training, sometimes for the first time. Pray that they would go on to transform the lives of the children in their classrooms.

• Pray that poverty won’t stop children in Nepal attending school. Pray they would have all they need to learn.

• Pray for the students preparing to sit exams at KISC, and for the KISC staff as they settle into the school’s new site.

Two girls sitting at desks look at a school book
Children in Nepal have been learning through new teaching methods, thanks to your support for school teachers in the country.

Guinea

Boys from deprived communities are learning formal rules and structure through a football club set up by BMS mission worker Ben*.

Summer classes have also been set up by Ben and his wife Isabelle* – who is a teacher – helping not only the boys, but other children, too.

• Pray that the boys would continue to be inspired to learn and develop, and that education and football would give them a great sense of self-worth.

• Pray for Ben, that he would have the resources, time and energy he needs to help the boys who come to him.

Players of the Blessed Boys Football Club in Guinea train and play a match.
Boys in Guinea are not only improving their football skills thanks to your support, they’re being helped with their schoolwork too.

China

We support teachers in China, helping students at a nursing college improve their English language skills.

• Pray the students would feel encouraged in their studies, and form strong friendships with their classmates.

• Pray for energy for our workers, in both their teaching and in their personal relationships.

India

Street children in Kolkata are learning reading, writing and arithmetic through the BMS-supported Street Servants team, led by our worker Ben Francis. Our team is working hard to set up a second school, which will give more children a chance to learn the skills they need to change their futures. We also support other education initiatives in India.

• Pray that children at the street school would have an incredible appetite for learning. Pray they would sense God’s presence in their lessons.

• Pray that the children’s parents would understand the importance of a good education, and would continue to allow their children to attend the school.

A girl walks towards other children standing under a bridge in India
School is being brought to street children in Kolkata, giving them the opportunity to learn.

Mozambique

Young children from poor backgrounds are being given the best possible preparation for school through the PEPE preschool initiative started and supported by BMS. Children are being taught important lessons like colours, numbers and the alphabet in creative ways.

• Pray that the children enjoy their preschool lessons and want to keep learning.

• Pray for the resources to help more children from disadvantaged communities.

• Pray for BMS worker Liz Vilela, who has been training new PEPE teachers in child protection. Pray that Liz would find ways to overcome any obstacles she faces in her work, and that the teachers put into practice what they’ve learnt.

Children in Mozambique pray during a school lesson
Children in Mozambique are not only being given a preschool education, they are also learning about Jesus.

Education is critical in helping children who are poor, disadvantaged and persecuted walk towards a better life – a life that we know is possible.

Through your donations and prayers you are enabling us to help children access education. Please share this story right now to encourage others to pray.

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Are you a teacher? Come and work with us

Inspired by the education work we do? We’re looking for teachers to serve in countries such as Uganda, Afghanistan, Guinea and Albania.

You can be the person who helps change a young person’s life for the better. Take the first step by clicking here to find out more. We’d love to hear from you.

* Names changed for security reasons

Meet the Vokuhls

Nepal bound:

Meet the Vokuhls

Pippa, Toby, Jakey, Ella and Millie Vokuhl fly to Nepal on Saturday with BMS World Mission. Find out why they feel called to mission and what they’ll be up to overseas.

After months of preparation, Pippa and Toby Vokuhl are ready to begin an exciting new chapter of their lives, serving God in Nepal. They are part of Headington Baptist Church in Oxford and have three children: Jakey (nine), Ella (seven) and Millie (three).

Amidst packing up their house, saying goodbyes and doing other last-minute tasks, Pippa and Toby sat down with us to talk about the adventure they’re getting ready to embark on.

Pippa and Toby, along with their three children, Jakey, Ella and Millie.
Pippa and Toby, along with their three children, Jakey, Ella and Millie.

Have you always wanted to work overseas?

“I would say yes for both of us – since our teenage years we’ve felt called to work overseas,” says Pippa. “We both worked in separate places overseas before we got married. I worked as a physiotherapist in Uganda and Toby worked as a carpenter in Nazareth.
“Toby and I actually met at All Nations Christian College,” Pippa continues. “So even from the start of our marriage, mission was very much on the agenda.”

How did you decide to move overseas?

“When we started to consider whether an overseas assignment might be right for us as a family and if that was something God might be calling us to,” says Toby, “it led us to start having conversations with BMS.”

“We had a Skype call with someone in Nepal telling us about the project and whether Toby would consider taking this role,” says Pippa. “As we got off the call, we both looked at each other and went, yes! This is the right one! So we both had a deep peace about this being the right thing to do.”

I’m looking forward to being able to encourage Nepali Christians and likewise them to encourage us

What will you be doing in Nepal?

“My background is in construction management,” says Toby. “I will be working with a local BMS partner as part of their disaster response and resilience department, based in Pokhara – there’s still a lot of ongoing work in terms of the reconstruction of housing that was damaged in the 2015 earthquakes.

“I’ll be working with local colleagues to help with the construction of houses, as well as training craftsmen, giving people the necessary skills to build a better future for themselves by teaching them how to improve the quality of their own homes.”

“For me, it’s a bit less clear at the moment,” says Pippa. “Initially when we get there it will be about settling the family in.

The Vokuhl family will be based in Pokhara, helping with relief work.
The Vokuhl family will be based in Pokhara, helping with relief work.

“We’ll both be doing some language study for a couple of months, and then after that I’ll be praying that God will give me the right role.”

The Vokuhls were the 'family of the week' on the BBC Oxford radio breakfast show back in November
The Vokuhls were the 'family of the week' on the BBC Oxford radio breakfast show back in November.

How did your children react when they found out they were moving?

“We were really encouraged by their response – they were really up for it and excited,” says Toby. “They’re now working through the sort of thoughts of losing friendships and how they can maintain them in Nepal, but in general they took it really well.”

What are you looking forward to when you go?

“Getting to know local Nepalis,” says Pippa. “Getting to know Nepali Christians and learning from them, being able to encourage them and likewise for them to encourage us – to be part of that global Christian family. I’m also looking forward to seeing my kids having new cultural experiences as well.”

“For me,” says Toby, “I’m really looking forward to meeting local colleagues, meeting with local Christians and joining in with the ongoing relief efforts, as well as the cross-cultural experience and the chance to learn new things.”

Even from the start of our marriage, mission was very much on the agenda

What can people be praying for?

“If you could pray for the kids,” says Pippa. “Toby and I have had experience overseas, so we know what to expect. But if people could pray for them with the transition, that they would just feel really settled and happy.”

“I think pray for general health really, that would be great,” says Toby. “It would be a shame to catch the flu just as we’re getting ready to go out!

“You can get tired and weary with all the work involved in a move, so also pray for energy, calmness and for peace. And please pray for the journey to Nepal and our stay in Kathmandu, before our journey to Pokhara where we will then settle ourselves in.”

If you’re an individual and want to commit to giving regularly to support the Vokuhl family, you can become a 24:7 Partner by clicking the box on the right.

If you’re a church and want to support the work they’ll be doing out in Nepal, you can become a Church Partner with us by clicking here.

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Could you be called to mission overseas?

Top 5 stories of 2017

Looking back:

Top 5 stories of 2017

Last year was filled with inspirational stories of lives being transformed through your giving. Here are our top five most-read articles from 2017.

Students being baptised in barrels. Young French Christians finding community. Nepali children excelling at school. These are just a few of the incredible things your gifts and prayers have made possible this year, through BMS World Mission. There were so many stories to choose from, but only five could top our news story charts! We hope you’ll be inspired as you look back at what we achieved together in 2017.

1. Big thinking for little minds

Children in Nepal are benefiting from Annie Brown's teacher training programme.

Millions of children in Nepal are getting the opportunity of a better education, thanks to your support for BMS worker Annie Brown.

With her teacher training programme being adopted by the Nepali Government, every teacher of students aged between five and 13 in all government schools will have the chance to receive Annie’s training. They’ll be better-equipped to teach, and Nepal’s children will face brighter futures!

2. Pray for our new mission workers

James and Ruth Neve, who are preparing to move to India to work with us.

Tucked away in our centre in Birmingham, new BMS mission workers are busy preparing for overseas service. For them, it’s daunting, but also exciting, as they get ready to serve God abroad in different ways. From a family heading to Nepal to help with disaster relief, to a couple heading to Albania to teach children of mission workers, there are plenty of things we can be praying for.

Loads of you loved catching up with our new mission workers’ prayer requests, making this our second most popular story last year.

Pray for them today by clicking the link below.

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3. 5 ways you're fighting violence against women

We're working in Uganda to help primary schools devise and implement child protection policies.

For thousands of vulnerable women and girls around the world, gender based violence is a daily part of life. But, thanks to your support, BMS is taking a stand against it. From helping girls know their rights, to freeing women from prostitution, you’re helping to empower women and prevent trafficking, sexual abuse and domestic violence. Find out more by reading the story.

4. Baptised in a barrel in Phnom Penh

Students are meeting Jesus in Cambodia! We loved witnessing the amazing moment when Srei got baptised in a barrel and by our stats it looked like you did too. Read about how she and Chan came to find God at a BMS-supported Christian hostel in Phnom Penh, and how, thanks to your support, more and more people are finding Jesus.

5. Feeding of the 400

You’re helping to build Christian community in France – where young Christians often feel isolated and lonely.

Connexion 2017, an event put on by BMS worker Sue Wilson and her team, helped young French Christians realise they’re not alone. Watch the video above to find out about what it meant to the people who were there, and click the link below to read how you’re helping bring young French Christians together.

Want to help us do more? Give today
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Thank you for supporting us in 2017. Your gifts have helped people find God, and have transformed countless lives. With your continued support, we can’t wait to start doing even more in 2018!

Other great stories made possible by you

Five stores aren’t enough to sum-up how much you did last year. So here are a few extra ones we’d love you to read too.

  1. Meet the inspiring Mozambican Christians you’re supporting: they’re bringing justice to abused women and teaching communities their rights.
  2. From witch doctor to church planter: the story of a witch doctor who found God, and then started planting churches.
  3. Baptist church brings light in Uganda: one simple action is raising money, helping people’s lungs and introducing people to Jesus.
  4. Refugees are like you and me: BMS worker Ann MacFarlane has seen God at work in the lives of refugees in Italy.
  5. This is what a life transformed looks like: meet Joshua. You helped give him a reason to smile.

You’re giving so much more than just presents this Christmas

You’re giving so much more than just presents this Christmas

Here are some of the ways you’ve helped people in desperate need this year.

A tarpaulin. A plastic groundsheet. Some thermal underwear. Did these items make your Christmas wish list?

You’ve given these – and other great gifts – to people in desperate need this year.

You’re providing a lifeline for Rohingya refugees fleeing violence in Burma (Myanmar), and keeping hundreds of people warm in the harshness of a Ukraine winter.

As you wrap your presents and prepare for Christmas, consider this our thank you note for what you’ve already given. And a reminder of the suffering you’re helping to alleviate, in Jesus’ name, every time you give to BMS World Mission.

Refugees look through a gap in their shelter in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh.
Vital aid is reaching refugees in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, thanks to your donations. Photo by Medair/Nath Fauveau.

Rohingya refugee crisis

The Rohingya people have witnessed their loved ones being raped, beaten and executed, and their villages reduced to ashes in a brutal military offensive. The scale of the terror inflicted by Burma’s soldiers is unimaginable, as is the exodus of those being targeted. More than 650,000 Rohingya refugees have crossed from Burma’s northern Rakhine State into Cox’s Bazar district in southern Bangladesh since August. Hundreds are still crossing every day, many of them children who have run for their lives.

How you are helping: By giving to BMS you’re helping more than 500 refugees. They arrive at camps exhausted, hungry and traumatised. They have next to nothing. The tarpaulin, ground sheet and stretch of nylon rope you’ve funded for these refugees are providing shelter. Thanks to you, Rohingya people have protection from the elements, and women can maintain their dignity thanks to hygiene kits containing sanitary products. People will also receive soap for washing and laundry, as well as a cup and a three-litre water jug.

Ukraine

The conflict that erupted in eastern Ukraine in 2014 between pro-Russian separatists and pro-Ukrainian groups has displaced 1.5 million people and killed at least 10,000. Government pensions and social benefits have been stopped for people living in areas under separatist control, while schools and hospitals have also had their funding halted.

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How you are helping: The temperature in eastern Ukraine is expected to drop to -7 degrees Celsius early on Christmas Day, and it could drop as low as -28 later in the winter. You’re providing over 1,000 people with coal, firewood, ceramic heaters and wood burners so they can survive, and children are being given thermal underwear.

Rachel Conway-Doel, our Relief Facilitator, talks about the crisis in Ukraine and what you can be praying for.

Syria conflict

Lebanon continues to host the highest concentration of refugees per capita in the world, with an estimated 1.5 million Syrian refugees and over 15,000 people from Iraq living there. Close to half of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon are children.

How you are helping: You’ve already helped dozens of children who have had their access to education shattered by conflict, and that support continues.

Thanks to your giving, at least 30 more refugee children are being taught English, Arabic and maths this school year, and doing what every child has a right to do – play.

Refugee children sit behind desks during a class in Lebanon.
Refugee children in Lebanon are being given an education thanks to you.
Your support this year has been amazing – look at what else you’ve done!

Mozambique — You gave food to 1,000 people affected by a fuel tanker explosion in Mozambique.

Haiti — You helped provide cholera prevention and treatment through water filtration after Hurricane Matthew.

Nepal — You provided food, blankets and medicine to more than 1,100 people following severe monsoon flooding.

Philippines — You helped to give medical check-ups and disaster training for community leaders following July’s earthquake.

Bangladesh — You helped to fund the rebuilding of 50 family homes destroyed by landslides in June.

South Sudan/Uganda — You gave food, tools and seeds to over 1,000 South Sudanese people in danger of starving.

No matter how much you gave this year, you made a difference. People you will never meet have been fed, sheltered and comforted thanks to your kindness. We thank you for all that you have done, and can’t wait to see what we can achieve together in 2018. Happy Christmas from all of us at BMS.

Big thinking for little minds

Big thinking for little minds:

All children in Nepal to benefit from BMS-supported teacher training

Thinking big. That’s how one BMS World Mission worker has achieved something incredible. Thanks to the teacher training programme Annie Brown has developed, every child in Nepal will have the chance of a better education and a brighter future.

God takes the little and multiples it. Faith the size of a mustard seed ends up moving mountains. Five loaves and two fish feed 5,000. One BMS teacher trainer’s passion for great education results in changes to the way schooling is approached across Nepal. It’s truly awesome.

In Nepal, teachers don’t necessarily have much formal training. To counter this and make sure it doesn’t harm children’s chances, teacher trainer Annie Brown has developed a programme that she’s been delivering in Nepal for four years. The aim is to help teachers steer away from the traditional rote learning method, and to get both students and teachers more engaged in critical and creative thinking. Her programme has been adopted by the Nepali government as part of their exciting initiative to promote child-centred learning.

When learning becomes interesting, the results are astounding. Students in schools that have received Annie’s training are now more engaged in what they’re being taught, and their hopes and dreams for their futures are reaching new heights. “These kids could be anything,” says Annie Brown.

Watch this video to hear from Annie and meet one of the teachers she has trained.

These kids could be anything.

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After observing Annie’s team in action in January 2017, the Nepal Government’s Ministry of Education was convinced. Annie was approached to roll out her training across the country’s entire education system, as part of the Nepali Government plans to improve it.

Starting in January 2018, the plan is for all teachers of students aged between five and 13 years old of all subjects in all government schools throughout Nepal to undergo training pioneered by Annie.

Nepal is made up of 75 regions. In these regions, there are 29,207 government schools. In those schools, there are 252,421 teachers who will have the chance to receive Annie’s training. That amounts to almost three and a half million children getting the opportunity for a better education. That’s impressive, however you look at it.

Hari has recently been voted top teacher in his district thanks to this training

One teacher who has already received the training is Hari, who Annie has been working with for the past two years. Hari has been teaching for 21 years in Lamjung District in central Nepal. And Annie’s teaching has changed the way he teaches – proof that you can always keep learning as a teacher. “After training I have more knowledge about how to motivate the students, how to actively participate them,” says Hari, who stars in the video above.

Having developed his skills to get children thinking and engaged in his classroom, Hari was recently named the top teacher out of 150 in his district. A huge achievement for Hari, and a testament to the value of the training you’re supporting. “Thanks to BMS for your support,” says Hari. “I’m also grateful to Annie, who’s the best instructor in my life.”

We’re very excited: the impact this training is having, and will continue to have, and the number of children that will be impacted is extraordinary. It’s all part of our mission to see more people on the margins access good-quality education. Thanks to your giving, children in Nepal now have so much more hope for their futures.

Find out more about Annie’s work and BMS-supported teacher training in Nepal. Read the latest issue of Engage, available to download here, and to read below. You can also subscribe to get a paper copy.

Inspired to give? Sign up to support BMS’ education work today.

Meet the people you’re helping after the 2015 Nepal earthquakes

Meet the people you’re helping after the 2015 Nepal earthquakes

You gave so generously following the devastating earthquakes that hit Nepal and killed over 8,000 people in 2015. We want to introduce you to just a few of the amazing people your gifts are helping.

Sarita. Manisha. Ayushma. Krishna. Kamala. These names might not mean anything to you now, but after you hear their stories they will. They are the names of people who have shown great resilience and courage in the face of disaster, and you have played a part in their recovery.

Gorkha District in Nepal.

Our home was wiped out by the earthquakes. It was really hard. We had to live in these temporary shelters afterwards and it was especially hard for my mother because she’s getting older.

To meet these people, you have to go to Gorkha District. It’s a beautiful place – green rice paddies stack on top of each other as you go up the mountains, a stairway to heaven. From the top, you look down on sparkling rivers hugging rocky terrain and spots of technicolour as women stop their work to rest for a minute in the fields. But this breathtaking beauty has known huge suffering, becoming one of the areas hit hardest by the 2015 earthquakes. Five hundred people lost their lives and more than a thousand people were injured here. On top of that, 70 per cent of homes and 90 per cent of schools and health centres were destroyed.

Meet 5 of the people you’re helping in Gorkha:

Following the earthquakes, your gifts enabled BMS World Mission to give £100,000 to help with recovery in Gorkha District. Thanks to you, we are helping around 12,000 people rebuild their lives. Mostly vulnerable people with disabilities. Rebuilding homes, providing healthcare services, and empowering people through self-help groups and advocacy are just a few of the ways survivors are now getting their lives back. Your giving is going far beyond immediate relief, enabling people to break free from depression, access much-needed healthcare and go back to school.

Sarita, the gentle woman with incredible strength

Sarita stands in front of the new home that is being built.
Sarita stands in front of the new home that is being built for her and the children in her care, thanks to BMS.

“I enjoy being able to love and care for them,” says Sarita, as four young girls sit patiently on a bench and watch her every move.

Sarita smiles at ‘her girls’. She comes across as gentle and loving, but this is clearly underpinned with great strength. Her life and work have not been easy. She explains the heartbreak she felt when her husband left her and her son. It’s been hard for her to support herself and her family on her own. But she’s carried on. Today, she’s taking care of herself, her son and many other children. Sarita is a dorm mother at Bhawani Secondary School, caring for ten children with disabilities, 24 hours a day.

Sarita, her son and some of the children she looks after.
Sarita, her son and some of the children she looks after.

It’s a school that’s suffered the consequences of disaster – after the 2015 earthquakes, the 16-room building was destroyed. Today there are simple temporary buildings scattered across the school grounds so that children can continue their education. Sarita, her son and the children in her care live together in a tiny crowded room near the school buildings.

Living like this, combined with the children’s physical difficulties, makes life a daily challenge. “Everything has to be done in the room – cooking, living, storing things, reading and playing,” says Sarita. “It’s hard because it’s so cramped.”

BMS is doing something to help. We’re supporting work to build an earthquake-safe structure for Sarita and the children in her care. The new building will have multiple rooms, giving them protection from disasters and more space to live better. “This help is making our lives easier,” says Sarita. “Thank you.”

Manisha and Ayushma, little girls with a love for learning

Manisha and Ayushma have been helped through BMS supported self help groups.
Manisha and Ayushma have been helped through BMS-supported self-help groups.

“She loves school,” says Manisha’s mum. “Even though only she just had her ear operation, she’s already asking when she can go back.” Manisha smiles at the ground, hugs her legs tight to her chest and sways back and forth on the straw mat.

The operations for ten-year-old Manisha and her neighbour, six-year-old Ayushma, wouldn’t have happened without the BMS-supported self-help group that their mothers attend. These groups were created in communities following the earthquakes as a way to empower people with disabilities, who were left particularly vulnerable.

Self-help groups are important because often people with disabilities are written off by their society and family members don’t know how to help. The mothers of Manisha and Ayushma struggled as they watched their daughters’ hearing deteriorate. “It was hard,” says Manisha’s mum. “It got to the point where we were having to yell at them constantly for them to understand anything.”

Manisha, Ayushma and their mothers.
Ayushma and Manisha, with their mothers.

When the mums brought this issue to their self-help group your giving has made possible, they found a solution. A BMS partner helped get the girls to a hospital. “We wouldn’t have known about this kind of service if it wasn’t for the group,” says Mainsha’s mum. “We feel very happy because financially we couldn’t have done this on our own.”

You’ve helped these two shy sweethearts. Thanks to their operations they will be able to learn, and to thrive.

Krishna, the loving son

Krishna and his mother.
Krishna has been blind since he was a child, he and his mother are being helped through your gifts to BMS.

“Our home was wiped out by the earthquakes,” says Krishna. “It was really hard. We had to live in these temporary shelters afterwards and it was especially hard for my mother because she’s getting older.”

Krishna’s mother Pahilee sits behind her son, watching over him as he speaks. You can see the love and concern they share for each other. They are also hard-working, and life has not been easy. They farm to make a living, yet they rarely have enough food to last them an entire year.

Krishna and neighbours at his home in Nepal.
Krishna and neighbours at his home in the mountains of Lamjung District.

On top of that, Krishna faces challenges everyday because he has been blind since the age of four. Krishna and his mother get a disability allowance from the Government, but they often have to rely on neighbours and borrow money to survive. Another earthquake could take everything they have.

Through your giving, BMS has helped to build a new earthquake-safe home for Krishna and his mother. “We are very thankful,” says Krishna. “And we are much safer now.”

Kamala, dreaming of the future

Kamala has been helped through BMS-supported self help groups.
Kamala suffered from severe depression. She has been helped through BMS-supported self help groups.

“I had depression,” says Kamala, her brown eyes glossy, near tears. “Because of this problem I couldn’t work to support my family and I had to quit my teacher training.” 28-year-old Kamala’s resilience is deeply inspiring.

Kamala has suffered with bone problems in her legs since she was a young girl. At 12 years old she had a surgery to fix the problem. Initially it worked, but six years later her condition came back, worse than it was before. The problems led to an infection in her thigh and made it extremely painful even to move.

“I would just lie in my bed all day,” says Kamala. “I didn’t even get up to use the bathroom, it was awful.” Her physical pain had a massive impact on her mental health, too. She stopped speaking to her friends and family and was starting to lose hope.

Two children in Gorkha District in Nepal.

Things got even more difficult for Kamala when she lost her home following the earthquakes. Despite all this, she wasn’t ready to give up. Seeking healing, she decided to join a BMS-supported self-help group. Members encouraged her to see a doctor and they prayed for her. This support led to two amazing things happening. A BMS partner supported Kamala financially and helped her get to a hospital, where she finally got the right medications to treat her depression and legs. And she became a Christian.

“I feel much better now,” says Kamala, with the biggest grin, the light coming back into her brown eyes. “My dream is still to be a teacher someday.”

The people here may have been marked by natural disaster, but their dreams are about so much more. Their stories are full of strength, resilience and love – and thanks to your support, we have had the privilege of coming alongside them to help. Rebuilding homes, providing access to healthcare and empowering people to chase fullness of life in Nepal – that’s the kind of work that you are very much a part of. It’s God’s work, it’s transforming and restoring lives in beautiful Gorkha, and it’s made a huge difference to the names you now know. Sarita. Manisha. Ayushma. Krishna. Kamala. Thank you.

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